Leaving Aunt Crystal’s house, it turned out that Zerah’s damage to himself with his Ambulatory Bloodfire Oath was more severe than anticipated. Getting him back inside her house was only slightly more awful than the process of disentangling Naranth from Aunt Crystal’s moth “clothing” after their queen had laid eggs in his clothing… his … sensitive … clothing.
At the edge of Aunt Crystal’s property, Naranth ripped off the blouse Aunt Crystal had insisted he wear, and re-donned his battle coat, ready to go, glancing desolutely back at Aunt Crystal’s gothic home.
Naranth and Enkidu made their way out of Aunt Crystal’s property in the Palindrome: and of course, the way out is not the way in, but the other way, the way through, is the same.
They encountered the singular Church of the Legacy which sits in the center of the Palindrome, amid the concentration of roads. It was a sight Enkidu knew well though he did not precisely recall it.
Dark cut granite bricks defined its structure.
Today (as there were many other days), there was an angel – pale skinned, long-dark-haired – standing before the door, weeping. This day, this angel seemed masculine from the strength of form, and was holding a sandstone sphinx in his hands as he wept. His tears turned to crystal as they fell to gather in the dirt at his feet.
The Vislae spoke with the angel, who seemed to take from their dialogue some bit of insight as “hope among the fissures”. In gratitude, he told the Goetic his name and offered counsel if called. He gave the Sphinx into Enkidu’s hands; almost immediately, time claimed the Sphinx, blunting its features, taking its form: from sand to sand, so that as the angel took flight and claimed a pale sunbeam out of the Indigo, the sphinx was only sand being pocketed quietly by the Vislae.
The Vislae made their echoing path of willow-bound ways out of the Palindrome.
RAILS AND FISH
Indigo Rail would take the Vislae several…interesting places that day.
Quiet Lake, and Naranth’s contact, knows as “the Fisherman” ‘started’ their evening in a Celtic fashion.
At the rail platform, the mailbox hailed Enkidu by name with a fiery, folded-paper message that eventually expanded itself into a messenger-class projection of an entity working in the Red Embassy by the name of Igriminch. Lamenting the discorporation of the Red Ambassador, Beleremsiphon, the Corrosion Branch functionary negotiated in folded paper form for help from Enkidu – because of past association – on finding out who did the deed. The Thah and the Goetic Guild had both been astoundingly unhelpful. Would Enkidu look into it!? There was a certain Thah captain who might be sympathetic….
Out in a protected floating fisherman’s shack smelling of scales and time at the edge of the Quiet Lake’s marshes, they spend some time looking for information from the Fisherman, as he processes the idea of the freedom of swimming from concrete fish form into the feeling of swimming free.
From the Fisherman they learn that the Charnel Heart is based…well, perhaps no one knows that, but they have a business front in the Underside of the Confederacy of Cloisters; on the other side of the Middle Night Market, it is cleverly disguised as a whorehouse.
The look of the fisherman at Enkidu regarding the Charnel Heart is as salty as the fish he serves on his porch, charred in pot brandy.
DARKMOON MANOR: SMOKE AND ASHES
They got to Darkmoon Manor via a Jeepnee pulled by an Elderbrin in the shape of a horseman and an aspiring young gladiator in a traditional training thong.
They found Darkmoon manor via the sight and smell of smoke.
The manor in ruins, only heavy concrete support stanchions standing, dread walked onto the Darkmoon grounds with them.
Two neighbors followed as they made their way onto the hot grounds. One was distraught, with the older one wearing the face of mourning but the appetite of a vulture that feeds on tragedy. They found out the basic and unhelpful details.
An Enkidu-summoned creature found 2 sets of remains: a woman in a bathtub, and a man, disintegrated into a practice circle. Sorcery, powerful sorcery was the end of the man and the house, and has attracted the woeful weeping willow from the property beside the manor…
In the afternoon light, they found Ember’s Leap glowing in the golden light. Soul arches mark the entrances and peaks of the property, set back from a huge and largely empty roundabout in northern Brickstown’s prosperous Hill District.
A brace of Thah were camped out across the square, seeking entry into the property to speak with the owner.
Having conquered the outer gate by opening it (unopposed), the Vislae proceeded within where they found Sir Charles Ember. Not Lord Imbir of Satyrine… Sir Charles of the Grey.
He chatted with them about cleaning up after the party. He chatted with them about preparing for the next adventure, based on their friend Eru’s “advance work”. He told them of a special resource they had reserved at an Emporium in Strangeglass called The Big Book of Riddles.
Enkidu pushed his way past the staid Sir Charles Ember, into the quasi-ruin of Ember’s Leap. There was evidence of magical combat – contained – and the exertion of power inside the sprawl of the red and teal mansion.
In the topiary garden, among the random cuts of vegetation, and the ashtrays, Enkidu found the host. Found Lord Imbir of Ember’s Leap.
Imbir spoke to Enkidu from the shadows of the needs of the house, of the cleanup of the house from the ‘exceptional events’ that transpired… of the needs of Charles Ember….
The two seemed aware, but slipperily, of one another….
CONFEDERATION OF MADNESS
Off to the Confederation of Cloisters in Endkidu’s growling transport. Across from a Chapter House of the Sisters of Silent Contemplation is a difficult-to-see ramp behind a storehouse that leads down into the earth. Smooth as worm-ground earth, the stone ramp descends by slow turns into firelight and the underneath of faith.
Dancing and music and fire and incense and singing and coupling and athletic demonstrations crowded in on them as they entered the Undersling, as though all the equanimity of the Confederation had to be paid for, or ran off, like fat from a bad oven bake.
The red lantern public house was a popular one, with ladies and a few men that were self-possessed and active in their cultivation of clients. The madame was a ginger dwarf woman, curious about her (revealed) Vislae client.
Enkidu went to her office where he asked her directly about the hiring of the assassin who attacked and revealed herself to Naranth. The madame decried all knowledge of such a person, and offered official Charnel policy that never reveals workers’ identities.
Enkidu and Naranth arranged to make a distraction that would allow Enkidu to steal the dwarf whore’s files.
Naranth, with the Excession curse in full effect called thunder and lightning through the Red Lantern of the Heart. The iron-reinforced oak door was a perfect conductor for the Lighting of Infinity. It blasted backward with the energy of the blast, through the whores and johns in the welcome room, through the back rooms, and into the metal back door, sparking massive fires into the building.
Amid the screams and the blossoming ruby gleam of young fire, Enkidu bypassed the bleeding and the dying into the whorehouse’s management room, Enkidu used his magic to offer the whore’s filing cabinet to the dreams of the Blue Sun. He then faded into the horrified crowds of the UnderMarket battling the burning of the Red Market building.
On the ramp, they found each other amid the wailing and the wounded.
The cab waited for them in the quiet night of the Confederation like an accusation of the transport of magic.
Power had its reign that day, and the Vislae packed their goods and their wounds and exhaustion together as they raced toward the Abstraction.